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CD: AmazonUK AmazonUS

Heinz Karl GRUBER (b. 1943)
Aerial (1998-9) [25:49]
Peter EÖTVÖS (b. 1944)
Jet Stream (2002) [21:39]
Mark-Anthony TURNAGE (b. 1960)
From the Wreckage (2004-5) [14:59]
Hĺkan Hardenberger (trumpet)
Gothenburg Symphony Orchestra/Peter Eötvös
rec. Göteborg, Konserthuset, April 2004 (Eötvös), February 2005 (Gruber), December 2005 (Turnage)
DEUTSCHE GRAMMOPHON CD 00289 477 6150 [62:53]


Experience Classicsonline

This fresh, lively and above all significant issue includes two world premieres on one CD: From the Wreckage by Mark-Anthony Turnage and Heinz Karl Gruber’s Aerial. Both trumpet concertos by Turnage and Gruber were written for Hĺkan Hardenberger, and are coupled with Jet Stream, the trumpet concerto Peter Eötvös wrote for Markus Stockhausen.
H.K.Gruber’s Ariel was written for the 1999 BBC Prom season, and those who remember that concert will probably want this CD on the strength of this piece alone. Of two movements which Gruber calls “two aerial views” the first is titled ‘Done with the compass – Done with the chart!’, a quotation from Emily Dickinson’s poem Wild Nights. This atmospheric movement conjures an imaginary landscape under the Northern Lights, with the soloist suggesting a magical Nordic incantation by singing at the same time as playing, playing through the instrument with pieces missing, and use of a cowhorn. Despite this movement’s slow character, elements of the second are pre-echoed with sometimes surprising jazz chords from the orchestra. The second movement is one in which we are offered a view of our planet from space, empty of life but displaying a sign which says ‘Gone Dancing’. This is music which is rich in imagery and deeply resonant orchestration, but as you can imagine, the rigorous and complex compositional processes at work are often well hidden within touches of wit and humour.
Peter Eötvös worked with Markus Stockhausen in the 1981 premiere of Karlheinz Stockhausen’s Donnerstag aus Licht, and the two came together once more in 2003 for the first performance of the BBC commissioned Jet Stream. The work is scored for a very large orchestra, and with three trumpetists placed immediately behind the soloist. These trumpet echoes at times seem to turn the soloist into some kind of multiple-headed monster, the soloist always winning through, and eventually claiming an extended cadenza. A sampler keyboard and some of the orchestral nuances suggest that a little of the Stockhausen influence has rubbed off on Eötvös, but the ‘dense continuum of whirling currents and cross-currents of sound’ which Anthony Burton describes in his booklet note are distinctive and etched with purposeful clarity. Somewhat harder to assimilate than the Gruber work, it is nonetheless a highly rewarding experience which will grow on repeated hearings.
Hĺkan Hardenberger already recorded one of the solo trumpet parts in Mark-Anthony Turnage’s Dispelling the Fears (Argo 452 589-2) and so has already become acquinted with the composer’s idiom. Turnage is one of the key figures in British contemporary music, and the stature of From the Wreckage will do his reputation no harm at all. The solo part soon betrays some of the influences which Turnage has held over from his extensive collaborations with jazz musicians. This piece was a joint commission from the BBC, the Helsinki Philharmonic Orchestra and the Gothenburg Symphony Orchestra, and the solo part, including a certain amount of improvisation, was devised in collaboration with Hĺkan Hardenberger. From the Wreckage refers to the problematical period in the composers life during which some of the material was first sketched. The soloist turns to the mellow tones of a flugelhorn and the sharp piccolo trumpet as well as a standard instrument. Four percussionists placed within the orchestra punctuate with ‘ticking’ snare drums, and later with bells. There is a kind of desolate lyricism to the close, and the general atmosphere is fairly grim and moody, despite the jazz lines in the solo part – more overtly ‘jazzy’ than Gruber, but serious – no jokes.
This is a marvellously rewarding issue to which I shall be returning often in the future. Symphonic orchestral sounds through which the soloist can cut like a cleaver are a feature of modern trumpet concerti, and all of the composers represented here revel in the opportunity to balance the needle-sharp instrument against massed and colourful accompaniments. It almost goes without saying that Hĺkan Hardenberger is a soloist without equal, cruising through bruising technical passagework as if it were Handel or Haydn. The recording is superbly detailed and revealing, with excellent spatial separation for multiple soloists and specialist percussion alike. No fan of good contemporary music should be without this music and no-one needs to, thanks to all concerned here.
Dominy Clements


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